MAFF members will benefit immensely if proposed changes to Public Act 54 and the state Personal Property Tax are passed by the Legislature. Currently, when a collective bargaining agreement expires, Public Act 54 (PA 54) of 2011 freezes all wages and benefits of public employees and places the burden of health care, dental, vision, prescription or other insurance cost increases automatically upon those employees. The wage freeze also applies to step increases. House Bill 5097 (HB 5097) would exempt public employees who are eligible to participate in compulsory bargaining of labor disputes under Public Act 312 from provisions in PA 54 which restrict compensation and benefits after a contract expires and prohibit wage or benefit levels in a new contract from being retroactive. House Speaker Pro-tempore John Walsh is the primary sponsor of this bill, which would benefit police, fire fighters, dispatchers and EMT's alike. Walsh told Michigan Capitol Confidential, a Mackinac Center for Public Policy news service, that legislators did not expect PA 54 to apply to public safety employees covered under Act 312. In fact, police and fire fighters were told by legislators it wouldn't apply to them. Since the law conflicts with language in Act 312 of 1969, Walsh said the Legislature can choose between passing an amendment to the current law or litigation brought by public safety employee unions.
"The raises are on par with what they gave other city workers. The promotional procedure was important because we have a set pattern of how were going to do it. It would take seven or eight years to be eligible for promotion previously. Now they have to be there five years and work at least 2,000 hours in that five-year period," said MAFF Labor Relations Specialist Joe O'Connor. "Captains and Lieutenants were required to attend meetings and they weren't being paid for them. They were receiving stipends and the City argued that was their payment. Now they're receiving their hourly rate of pay for going to these meeting and the stipend stayed the same. That was a significant gain for them. The Employer has agreed to promote two Lieutenants for each one of the stations. They currently don't have that manpower."
Contract Duration: 4-year agreement, ratified Sept. 7, 2014, and effective 6-30-13 to 7-31-17.
Wage Increases: 2% wage increase upon contract ratification.
• $200 one-time stipend effective 9-26-14 paid to all current members as Employer is now paying Employees their earnings one week later instead of paying their wages in the week they earn them.
• $400 stipend to current members (equals 2% pay increase for average paid-on-call) effective 7-1-15.
• 2% wage increase effective 7-1-16.
"The big thing was the stand-by time, the increase in that wage. That went up by almost $3 an hour, but that was to offset the loss of hours they are faced with due to the Affordable Care Act. They increased the pay for everything else with the exception of the EMS runs," said MAFF Labor Relations Specialist Joe O'Connor. "The number of paid holidays was increased by five and it's the day the city recognizes (the holidays) on. If the city celebrates on Friday, they can work the Friday, get the time and a half and stay home with their family on the holiday itself. The grievance procedure was more clearly defined. We established a panel of arbitrators to select from and a procedure to select the arbitrators in lieu of paying AAA."
Contract Duration: 4-year agreement, ratified June 24, 2014, and effective 7-1-13 to 6-30-17.
Wage Increases: Paid-on-call fire fighters when toned out receive:
$26 per hour for Fire Rescue runs, a 4% increase.
$23.50 per hour for EMS runs, a 6% reduction.
$20 per hour for Stand-by-Duty, a 15.6% increase.
$18 per hour for Meetings, a 4% increase.
Tone out runs were previously paid at $25 per hour. To help offset the increases in Stand-by and Meeting pay, the Employer separated the toned out runs into two categories, Fire Rescue (increased by $1 per hour) and EMS (reduced $1.50 per hour). POC are expected to make up the loss of pay for EMS runs through the pay increases in other areas.
• POC Officers monthly stipend was increased by $25 per month:
Captain $275, a 10% increase.
Lieutenant $233, an 11.8% increase.
Sergeant $192, a 15% increase.
• Instructors pay increased to $20 per hour, a 5% increase.
MAFF wins lawsuit filed over failure to arbitrate
Macomb Township officials were ordered to arbitrate three grievances filed by MAFF on behalf of two Macomb Township Fire Fighters in a Circuit Court ruling June 13. The decision was in response to a lawsuit filed by the Employer after MAFF filed a motion for summary disposition in an effort to compel the Employer to arbitrate the matters.
"Judge (Jennifer M.) Faunce ordered Macomb Township to participate in arbitration of three grievances," said MAFF attorney M. Catherine Farrell. "The Employer refused to arbitrate and brought a lawsuit to stop the arbitrations."
On Sept. 5, 2013, MAFF filed grievances and pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) took the grievances through the grievance procedure. The Employer alleged that the Union had not fully complied with Step Three by refusing to meet with the Township Board of Trustees. The language was ambiguous as to whether the Union was required to "meet" with the Township Board of Trustees. Judge Faunce agreed with MAFF that the issue of procedural arbitrability is for the arbitrator to decide, not the Court.
The Judge stated "... the CBA grants an arbitrator the authority to decide whether a misrepresentation or misapplication of a specific article has occurred, and the instant dispute centers on whether one of the parties has misinterpreted or misapplied the requirements under Step Three. This matter must therefore be decided by an arbitrator, rather than the Court."
Union representatives invited to Grievance Seminars
All Local Executive Board Members and Local Stewards are encouraged to attend a series of Grievance Seminars being held at the MAFF Office. The Seminars, being conducted by MAFF Executive Director Fred Timpner, will provide valuable information on key grievance issues.
Seminars on Aug. 28 and Oct. 24 will focus on contract interpretation. Discipline will be discussed at the Seminars on Sept. 25 and Nov. 21. Each Seminar begins at 10 a.m. and lunch will be served. Details can be found on the website Calendar.
These Seminars are limited to 12 persons on a first-come basis so please contact Julie Palmquist at (248) 304-8806, ext. 231 as soon as possible to make reservations.
MAFF representation allows for uniform benefits, wages and more for multi-jurisdiction authority
Chelsea Area Fire Authority voted unanimously to join Michigan Association of Fire Fighters (MAFF) in an April 4 election with 12 members voting Yes for MAFF representation and zero opposing.
"The Authority is made up of different communities and each has different ideas on how things should be covered," said Ron Palmquist, MAFF Labor Relations Specialist for Chelsea Area Fire Authority. "There was too much uncertainty as to how things were going to go with benefits and wages and everything else. Now everyone will know what is what and follow the contract."
The members being represented by MAFF include 10 full-time and five paid-on-call fire fighters employed by the Chelsea Area Fire Department. The Chelsea Area Fire Authority includes the City of Chelsea, Lima Township, Lyndon Township, Sylvan Township and portions of Waterloo and Dexter townships. The City of Chelsea and the townships of Lima, Lyndon and Sylvan are represented by MAFF. Waterloo and Dexter townships pay a fee to participate in the Authority and do not have a vote on the Chelsea Fire Authority Board.
MAFF is the first union to represent the Chelsea Area Fire Authority. A year ago, they held a vote to join International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), a national organization which has state fire fighters associations affiliated with them. However, the fire fighters voted against having IAFF represent them.
"They have been a non-organized group, at-will employees," Palmquist said, adding once an election is held the organization must wait one year before they can seek other representation. "When you get out away from southeast Michigan you find it's a little more common than in the metro area (to be unrepresented). A lot of these departments were originally volunteer groups where they were not paid."
Authority Fire Fighters contacted MAFF after the one-year bar from choosing other representation. "I think they had been talking to some of the surrounding departments," Palmquist said, adding MAFF represents the townships of Sumpter, Van Buren, Northfield, Green Oak and Augusta. Between mutual aid runs and training, he said, fire fighters communicate with each other and find out about union representation.
Now that Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) has given their official approval, Palmquist is busy getting the group ready for their first contract. "I have them working on bylaws for their local group and in the meantime we provide surveys to them to find out what they want to see in the contract," he said. "I sent a letter to the Employer requesting information and we'll put a contract together and start negotiations hopefully in the next few weeks."
June 19, 2014
SENATE PULLS PLUG ON ROAD FUNDING, TO FORM SUMMER WORK TEAM
After failing to find the votes necessary to generate new road funding revenues the GOP-controlled Senate joined the House in adjourning last week for a scheduled summer break.
The Senate first scrapped Majority Leader Randy Richardville's (R-Monroe) original plan to raise $1.4 billion after five years, then could must only 17 votes for legislation that would index the state's 19-cent gas tax to the rate of inflation the major piece of a scaled-down plan to raise a new combined $247 million.
Former longtime members White Lake Township Fire Fighters return to MAFF
Former longtime MAFF members, White Lake Township Career (Full-Time) Fire Fighters returned to the Union in November 2013 after a three year hiatus and they are already pleased with the difference MAFF representation has made.
"My experience with MAFF – it is a completely different experience," said Union steward David Mills. "I couldn't hope for or ask for better union representation than Donnell Reed. He's honest, he's professional and very accessible despite his busy life."
MAFF represented White Lake Township Career Fire Fighters from 1992 to November 2010, when the fire fighters decided to switch their representation to Fire Fighters Association of Michigan (FAOM) based on promises made, but not kept. White Lake Fire Fighter's voted unanimously to return to MAFF, 13-0. "The primary reason they left is they weren't receiving the representation they were promised. They did have to do their own negotiations," said MAFF Labor Relations Specialist Donnell Reed.
Belleville POC Fire Fighters join MAFF because of unsafe working condition concerns
By Jennifer Foley, MAFF Editor
Belleville Paid On-Call Fire Fighters Association voted to organize and join MAFF in May. The 13-member group, which was previously unrepresented, chose MAFF based on a recommendation from a neighboring MAFF department.
"They have tried internally to work with the local officials to improve some working conditions for them dealing with wages and safety issues within the fire station and equipment," said MAFF Labor Rep. Donnell Reed. "They have some very serious concerns about the equipment they're forced to work with. This is not for financial gain, as much as for their safety and well being while they act as paid on call firefighters."
The membership voted 7-1 to join MAFF after attempting to work with city officials who rejected their requests. Nominated Union President Brian Blackburn said the station's diesel exhaust extraction system was broken and when the City refused to fix it, a resident paid $500 to cover the cost. "A little bit after that the system broke again and it's still broken today and when the trucks start up, especially in the winter, all the fumes head right to the furnace," Blackburn said. "The filters look so bad it looks like a graphite filter. We have other issues with truck maintenance and equipment testing. We were finally done playing nice."
"Generations of family members have gone through that fire department and over the years they never had any life insurance per se. They had a long-time serving firefighter pass and his family struggled to bury him. They now have Employer funded life insurance for non-duty related injuries," said MAFF Labor Relations Specialist Donnell Reed.
Contract Duration: 2-year agreement ratified 4-22-14 and effective 1-1-14 to 12-31-15.
Wages: $250 signing bonus and wage re-opener on 1-1-15.
- Tone out compensation changed from first hour to 15 minute intervals after going into third hour. Employees are guaranteed first hour of pay. One minute into the second hour after tone out time, they are guaranteed entire second hour of pay and may be directed to perform any duty for the remainder of the hour if all incident-related work is complete. Every hour thereafter, Employees are paid in 15 minute intervals.
- $25,000 fully funded term life insurance policy.
Community Involvement: Employees will be compensated for their involvement in more community activities including speaking at events, and participating in business openings, burn camp, and school functions.
Bargaining Team: Labor Relations Specialist Donnell Reed and Association President Kevin Cleary.
Consolidation trend continues for Michigan fire departments
As revenue to communities continues to evaporate, employers are looking for ways to cut costs. Unfortunately, fire services are not exempt from these cuts and the growing response is consolidation.
Michigan was particularly hard hit by the recession as communities try to come to grips with the lengthily loss of revenue due to the cap on property taxes caused by Proposal A of 1994. Until 1994, property was valued at half of its market value, or State Equalized Value (SEV). Now the growth in taxable valuable is limited to the rate of inflation or 5 percent, whichever is less. Since taxable value declined when the real estate market collapsed in 2007 and inflation remains around 2 percent, some communities have lost up to 20 percent of property tax revenue. In those municipalities, it could take up to a decade to fully recover the same revenues.